KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rick Santorum is planning to help his home state governor survive what’s anticipated to be a grueling reelection fight.

The 2012 presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator said he “absolutely” expected to campaign for embattled GOP Gov. Tom Corbett next year.

“Tom’s been a strong governor.  The state of Pennsylvania’s actually doing very well under his leadership.  We haven’t seen any tax increases since he’s been there.  You’ve seen economic growth better than the national average.  You’ve seen unemployment rates lower than the national average.  He’s been very, very effective in controlling spending and fostering economic growth,” Santorum said in a response to a question this weekend at the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference.

Santorum, who last met with Corbett in Harrisburg a few months ago, said while he hasn’t yet been asked to assist the campaign, he’s “certainly going to be doing things to be helpful.”

Pennsylvania Democrats called it a sign of desperation.

“It shows how unpopular Tom Corbett is in Pennsylvania that he is hoping for a boost from Rick Santorum whose standing with Pennsylvanians is abysmal,” said state party spokesman Mark Nicastre.

A Franklin & Marshall College Poll in August found just one in five Pennsylvania voters believes Corbett deserves a second term.  Just 16 percent rated his performance “excellent or good,” a historic low for a governor in the state.

In 2012, Santorum suspended his campaign before competing in the Pennsylvania primary, which Mitt Romney ultimately won.  The last time Santorum appeared on a Pennsylvania ballot was 2006, when the incumbent senator got throttled by Bob Casey by 18 points.

UPDATED @ 10:08 p.m. with Democratic Party response.